On the weekend I travelled to the Blue Mountains for the Ginninderra Press launch of their latest poetry anthology, Mountain Secrets. I'm chuffed to say my poem, Gunnung Batur is included in the collection.
I wrote the poem when I was on holiday in Bali. The deadline for submission to the anthology was fast approaching and I was racking my brains over what to write about. Writing to a theme is a new experience for me and it's not that easy to get the creativity following along specific lines. Especially if you don't usually write about the topic!
Luckily there's lots of inspiration in Bali and we just happened to visit a volcano and then go down into the enormous crater where there are houses, a lake, fisheries, hot springs and so on. I had always imagined a volcanic crater to be filled with red hot lava, boiling and swirling around. So it was a huge surprise to discover people living and farming in the crater. Heck, there's even tourism!
The volcano became the topic for my poem as did the Bali Aga - people who live on the shore of the lake and have a very unusual burial custom. They lay out the bodies in their best clothes and then cover them with cages of palm and bamboo under the shade of the Taru Manyan tree. This tree is a type of banyan and somehow masks the stench of decay.
I was stoked when my poem was accepted for the anthology (my first ever antholgy, whoo!). Waiting to hear was quite nerve racking - you just never know when you send your darlings off how exactly they will be received. Will the editor like it? Does it strike a chord? Is it (gulp) good enough? As a writer you really do have to embrace uncertainty.
While I got the poem in on time, I almost didn't make it to the launch of the anthology. I had organised everything for the trip but somehow managed not to RSVP! Luckily Brenda Matthews of Ginninderra Press very kindly managed to squeeze me in at the eleventh hour. Thanks Brenda - it was a wonderful launch and wonderful to see you and Steven again.